Why is September and January recruiters’ hottest months? In our daily work, it is easy to get sucked into the minutiae of the work and job. The summer vacation or beach weekend is a very valuable opportunity to reflect for a moment on our careers. What is exciting us, what is boring us, what do we want to do more of and what do we want to abandon. James provides an action list that any ambitious manager or executive would be wise to listen to.
Faced with demands from customers, shareholders, employees, business partners and regulators for short and long-term growth, it is not capital or regulatory issues that are humbling executives, it is a lack of self-esteem. Maintaining a high level of self-worth and self-confidence is critical to business success. We recharge those levels by learning and applying new skills, applying them successfully in our daily work and most importantly, increasing our resilience. Honest reflection at the beach is a great starting point for prioritizing where we need help in the next 12 months and doing something about it. Don’t let the time go to waste.
24 hours before my Panel Session at the World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona and the level of anticipation has reached unprecedented levels….
Harry Styles and his One Direction band mates doing a great warm up!
Whether it is a weekend in the Hamptons, a vacation on a Greek island or a Maldivian atoll, James offers tips on what executives can do before, during and after your vacation to become more effective and efficient resolving open issues in your work, job and career. After listening to this you might even surprise yourself about the level of power and influence within your control.
I am in Barcelona this week moderating a session at the World Gaming Executive Summit www.wges.com on market growth and expansion into US, Europe and Asia gaming markets. I have a fabulous panel of CEO’s and senior executives from Sportech Plc, PKR, AG Tech and Lotto 24.
In readiness for the event, I have spoken to an array of senior gaming and lottery figures. I always find it interesting as an “outsider” to reflect on the key challenges and draw comparisons with other sectors. Indeed some of my client’s most valuable results stem from approaches that have worked in other sectors, which perhaps are further advanced (technology, complexity) or seasoned (regulation, market change and so on).
For investors, top management and employees attracted to the global gaming and lottery business, managing change and the impact of evolving regulation is an every day occurence. Yet how different is this to the nuclear, energy or indeed the financial services industry? Over lunch with a substantial private equity investor in the renewables sector, he recently recounted a story about how one recent decision by the Spanish governement had left one sizeable investment “compeletely underwater” for the forseeable future. There is no incentive for the owners to invest further in the business until legal challenges are exhausted and the fund nears its’ exit point.
Where profitable growth and expansion of a business is heavily exposed to “regulatory risk”, I counsel clients that their investment plans must contain the following:
(1) Capital allocation plans must include a “regulatory premium”. Factored into the cost of capital must be a premium commensurate with the level of risk accorded with the investment in that market.
(2) Human resource plans must include a “regulatory contingency”. In other words the higher the regulatory risk and the potential impact on the future of the business, the greater the flexibility (severance terms) and financial resources the business must hold in liquid assets to avoid a short-term change creating a catastrophic impact on the firm’s cashflow.
(3) Fixed asset investments must include a “regulatory risk-weighting”. In other words, fixed assets (gaming or lottery infrastructure, office leases and so forth) should be adjusted to the changing levels of regulatory risk apparent in that market and the impact on the future of the business.
Boards should hold top management accountable for regular oversight of each of these areas. Whether that is done formally, in the form of monthly or quarterly reporting or informally, at the quarterly results stage.
In too many companies, particularly mid-sized businesses in the gaming and lottery sector, regulation and compliance changes are a separate agenda item in Management or Board Meetings. It is not integrated correctly into the capital allocation process, the evaluation of results or even top management’s compensation.
For a sector that has seen seismic impacts of regulation on the industry’s future and its’ wider perception, there is still much progress to made in the Boardroom in providing the right controls over top management’s behaviour.
The speed and quantity of information about publicly and privately run insurance and reinsurance businesses is at an all time high. Yet in the public arena, the quality of information generated by rating agencies, banking analysts, in-house investor relations and others is woefully inadequate. James looks at the work of banking analysts in this talk and asks why their questioning and analysis is so shallow and rarely forsees key industry events or trends until it is too late. James offers tips to analysts on how they can gather sharper insight from top management in the insurance sector and apply that to the knowledge of retail and institutional investors to make wiser investment decisions.
James addresses challenges that private healthcare insurance consumers, carriers, administrators, consultants, investors and employers face today with the emergence of multiple private health insurance exchanges. He offers suggestions on how they can stay competitive while maintaining a high level of quality service for their clients. He also draws comparisons with exchange models and development outside the sector, providing clues to who will and most likely won’t profitably grow in the sector.
The insurance and reinsurance business in North America, Bermuda and London has disproportionately relied on young people with a family connection, to attract the brightest and best people to the sector. There is a bifurcation between those young people who stay for a short while and those who build a career in the field. In those first few months and years in the business, the key is the beliefs and behaviours of the “lynchpins”. The formal and informal leaders, customer interface with the organisation, employee development processes etc that hold the whole business together. In firms at the operational level, where there is goal congruency with senior management intent and mutual shared interests, there is a tremendous correlation with bright young people sticking around. Learn to understand what your firm needs to do to dramatically improve its’ ability to attract the future stars.
A convergence of the economic crisis, new resulting regulations and growing consumerisation are potentially leading to a perfect storm for insurance distributors and advisory firms. James addresses areas that the people running those businesses often overlook, which in turn means lost business and revenue.